“Infinity Man and the Forever People” #4 has the unfortunate distinction of being couched between two events while trying to regain traction with a creative team that has not had the opportunity to fully commit to this series yet. That and this issue contains an appearance from Bat-Cow as the Forever People try to get their bearings in their own comic book.
It’s not hard for readers to project themselves into the story that writers Dan Didio and Keith Giffen offer up in “Milk Run,” as our titular protagonists find their journey interrupted and have to quickly make heads or tails of their predicament. That serves as a nice metaphor for “Infinity Man and the Forever People” #4 where readers have to sift through their memory to reacquaint themselves with Big Bear and his crew. Beyond avoiding the basic introductions of the characters (several of which are never even referred to by name) this feels a lot more like a debut comic book than the fourth issue (fifth if you count the “Futures End” tie-in) of the current volume. That said, there are a lot of moving pieces, including the introduction of Doctor Skuba, a peek into New Genesis and Highfather’s current obsession with all things “Lantern,” a threat to Headmaster Himon from Infinity Man and mention of the “Femme Fatales.”
Giffen and Didio write the cast as a group of characters struggling through diversity and adapting to their situation. That is to say, there’s plenty of bickering, whining and pondering going on in the pages of “Infinity Man and the Forever People” #4. The bickering explodes between Vykin and Mark Moonrider, leaving the rest of the New Genesis explorers out of the spotlight while focusing on these two and Vykin’s sister, Serafin.
Giffen’s homage to Jack Kirby pervades throughout this issue, not limited to just Kirby crackle, but expanding to crazy, wild-hair-obsessed eyebrows, square fingertips, heavy shadows and thick outlines. Some of that edge is undoubtedly due to inker Scott Koblish, as he works very tightly with Giffen’s work to maintain the integrity of Giffen’s unique style. Using a more traditional grid-based layout for his pages with white gutterspace between panels, Giffen fills every panel with characters, landscapes, detail, or debris. Occasionally, he leaves some open space around a character, which colorist Hi-Fi takes full advantage of. The coloring in “Infinity Man and the Forever People” #4 is loud and irrepressible, a perfect match for Giffen’s drawings, but a potentially overwhelming duo, given the broad range of colors Hi-Fi slings throughout this issue. Travis Lanham has his work cut out for him as well, from the different style of Infinity Man’s word balloons to the paragraph-long caption box that summarizes the Forever People’s journey home.
If “Infinity Man and the Forever People” #4 was a first issue, it would lose a lot of readers, but as the fourth issue of a series, “Infinity Man and the Forever People” #4 acts as a railway turntable, waiting for the train to load, then shifting direction once more before taking off in a new direction. That said, this series is mere steps away from needing a glossary or character key and the final page appearance propels this series into its next adventure, seemingly once again plucking the destiny of “Infinity Man and the Forever People” from the hands of the creative team.